More than 70,000 tonnes of salt is stockpiled and ready for deployment across the North West area should bad weather make an impact this winter.
Roads Minister Chris Hazzard urged local drivers to take extra care as he announced the start of the annual roads winter safety service.
He said: “Over 70,000 tonnes of salt is stockpiled and ready to be deployed should the weather impact on the main road network. Reserve stocks of around 20,000 tonnes of salt are also available at strategic locations and additional salt bins are provided on a self help basis on routes not included on the salting schedule.”
TransportNI Northern Division manager Deidre Mackle added: “Throughout the winter season from now until the middle of April, we will have 78 staff on standby to salt main roads, helping drivers to cope with wintry conditions. “Salt barns and stockpiles are being filled to maximum capacity in Northern Division which encompasses the council areas of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Mid and East Antrim and Causeway Coast and Glens.
“When ice or snow is forecast, we have 38 gritters available which can salt the main network in just over three hours, a massive logistical exercise that costs around £20,000 each time it takes place.
“TransportNI will continue to provide salt bins and grit piles at strategic locations and will endeavour to replenish them during the winter. The salt bins and grit piles will be for use on a self help basis to help prevent the formation of snow and ice on pavements and untreated roads. “
Arrangements will also be in place to enlist the help of contractors, including farmers, to clear blocked roads and TransportNI had introduced enhanced communication arrangements and priority secondary salting to rural schools that are most affected by wintery weather conditions.
Arrangements will also be in place to enlist the help of contractors, including farmers, to clear blocked roads and TransportNI had introduced enhanced communication arrangements and priority secondary salting to rural schools that are most affected by wintery weather conditions. “
Deirdre Mackle continued: “Heavy snowfalls such as those we experienced in recent winters highlighted the essential role farmers, agricultural contractors and other plant operators played in helping to clear the roads for the public. During these events, many people voluntarily helped out and their assistance was greatly appreciated.”